The (Not So) Terrible Two’s by Dr. Shaila Callaghan | #TeachMeTuesday

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Is your toddler suffering from the “terrible two’s”?

Here’s a fact that might surprise you: The terrible two’s behavior is actually normal!

It is a good thing. It shows us as parents that our children are starting to get in touch with their own body. Children explore because they want to connect and this is when they begin to form their individual likes and dislikes. One of the most respected specialists in childhood neurological disorders, Dr. Robert Melillo, states that the terrible twos are “an important milestone in brain development”.

The development of the brain strongly predicts behavior, and brain development is not a choice. Each time the brain reaches a new stage, children will test the limits of the adults in their lives – they are working to understand these changes and mold these new ideas and concepts into their worldview. As the brain grows, neurons, or brain cells, connect more and more areas of the brain. This increases complexity of thought and understanding and children must experiment to see if these changes are consistent and dependable before they can accept them as true.

The terrible two’s describes a predictable set of behaviors that occur during the transition to toddlerhood. Three major developmental changes occur during this time:

1. Increased mobility

2. Budding self-awareness, and

3. The onset of language

These three changes lead to your toddler becoming more independent. They will begin to test their boundaries and discover their limits. There is no other way a child can learn for him or herself what these boundaries and limits are without being pushed against, tried and experimented with. Toddlers need firm, clear, patient and consistent parents who can set age appropriate boundaries and create safety for their new world exploration.

It is this natural curiosity that becomes the basis of their risk-taking behavior in the future. We should not teach our children to fear new experiences by giving negative feedback due to their curiosity. This requires loads of patience from us as parents! Rather than losing your temper, try to work with your child and offer him or her choices, but do not allow their preferences to run your life. As parents, we must still provide structure for our child, so don’t be afraid to do just that! Though these years may be very trying, your child will thank you for it in the future!

Dr. Robert Melillo, Disconnected Kids. 2010.
Paul C. Hollinger, M.D., From Infant to Toddler: The so-called “terrible two’s”. 2012
Marc D. Lewis, Self Organizing Individual Differences in Brain Development. Developmental Review. 2005.

Dr. Shaila Callaghan is a licensed Chiropractor, Prenatal and Pediatric Wellness Expert. She practices in Toronto and can be reached at 416-962-2000. To learn more about Dr. Shaila Callaghan be sure to have a look at vitahealthclinic.com

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